Thursday, January 10, 2013

Taglit Mayanot Day 2: Shabbat

I just got back from Israel and I am transcribing the journal from my trip day by day. To start at the beginning, click here!

December 29, 2012

Word of the day: Shavua Tov (שבוע טוב) = Have a good week

We had an early night yesterday and a late start today, which was excellent. Breakfast went from 8-10 AM and my husband and I got there at 9:30 AM so that we could eat before trying to get a group together for services. Eating salad for breakfast seems to be a thing here. Anyway, we were supposed to try to get a minyan starting at 10:00 AM for morning services, but we didn't even come close. It wound up just being me and my husband, our tour guide Ariel, and two other guys in our group. Our rabbi and the other group's rabbi didn't even show up, although even if they had, we still would have needed four more men for a minyan.

Sidenote: This is a chabad trip, so I don't count for a minyan. It is very discouraging to not count. We were separated by gender for the Maariv service last night, but they didn't use a mechitza. It almost seemed like they might as well use one if we weren't going to interact and we didn't count anyway. A few of us stuck around after for an extended service - five men and four women. It was belittling to hear the rabbis talk about needing five more for a minyan. What is the point of going if you don't contribute to the community's numbers? Despite all this, I showed up this morning anyway knowing that I wouldn't count.

After praying silently to ourselves, since we didn't have a minyan, we had lunch with the group, followed by free time. My husband and I walked down the path along the Galilee, which ends at a cemetery. It was a gorgeous cemetery on a hill with beautiful tombstones and music. At the top of the hill was a mountain of stones commemorating Herzl, the first Zionist. We asked Ariel about it and he said that there is a pile of stones further north that is harder to get to where people leave stones every year. The one we saw is made up of some of the stones from that site, which they have turned into a memorial now.

The moon on the Sea of Galilee
We walked back, took a nap, ate dinner, and had some group bonding activities. Tomorrow, eight soldiers will join our group for five days, so we talked about the army and mandatory service. Rabbi Berel led Havdalah services and we went out of a night in Tiberias. Marc and I had a nice dinner and drinks on the boardwalk. There was this awesome light show on the water - the spray water up in the air and then project onto it like a screen.

Side note: they don't have limes in Israel.

After dinner, we hooked back up with the group at the loudest bar in existence. It was like a frat party, which wasn't my thing, even when I was in college, but the night was fun anyway. It was amazing to see the mix of people walking around. The patriotism here is beyond anything I've experienced. To hear Ariel and others talk about the land, you can tell they really love it. Ariel was born in America and made Aliyah with his parents about 12 years ago, when he was 18. The more time we spend here, the more I can see us living here. The land is beautiful, the weather is great, the people are brave and eclectic, and it's nice to have such easy access to so much kosher food. Sababa!

Hear about my soldiers here!